For the past couple of years I have been participating as a Giver with World Book Night (which is a misnomer b/c it’s mostly UK and USA). Last year I chose the book Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris:
and gave them to my Toastmasters group. I wanted to share my experience with World Book Night so that you can see an example of how it works and hopefully be inspired to sign up as givers in years to come. So without further ado…
What is World Book Night?
Most literacy events and programs are focused on children and young readers, while adults have been largely ignored. The Goal of World Book Night is to have people who are passionate about books or reading become ambassadors for reading. They have the opportunity to reach out to their communities to put books in the hands of light readers and people who don’t regularly read.
Why is this important?
Studies have shown that reading changes lives. It can improve literacy, improve employability, social interaction, enfranchisement, and can have a positive effect on mental health and happiness. Book readers are more likely to participate in positive activities such as volunteering, attending cultural events, and even physical exercise!
Is this something new?
New-ish. World Book Night began in 2010 in The United Kingdom as a way to increase adult literacy. Since then, it had occurred each year on April 23rd— chosen because it is Shakespeare’s birthday (this is what happens when you put the British in charge!).
This is 3rd year the United States has participated in the event. Last year 25,000 volunteers in the US gave out half a million free books and that # is expected to increase this year due to increased awareness and participation of volunteers which is AWESOME!
How does it work?
For each event, book offerings are chosen from suggestions collected from librarians, booksellers, a list of top 300 national bestsellers, and over 20,000 suggestions from the previous year’s participants! Books range from contemporary to classics, and everything in-between so that they will appeal to a wide-range of readers.
Each of the 30 selected titles is printed as special not-for-resale (no barcode!) World Book Night editions. The authors receive no royalties and the book printers provide the copies FREE of charge to the volunteers to give out.
Why is only one book title given per giver?
Having the giver select their top choice of the 30 books to be handed out allows them to earnestly speak to their audience and tell them, “This is a book I loved, and I think you’ll love it just as much!” When given to a group, it encourages an exchange of ideas and information, and the readers can compare their experiences as they progress through the book.
Why I chose to give to my Toastmasters group & why I chose Me Talk Pretty One Day -A set of 28 essays from #1 New York Times Bestselling humorist David Sedaris:
Whether you are a native English speaker or not, reading will help improve your speaking skills. You learn new vocabulary, new ways to grab and keep the attention of your audience, and new stories to pass on to others. I firmly believe time spent reading is not wasted, & improves our speaking capabilities. I chose this book for 3 reasons:
- Its humor—something entertaining will always keep your attention longer than a dull technical book and I didn’t want my group to be bored!,
- Its short essays—because no matter how busy our lives might get, we all should have enough minutes in a day to complete reading a short essay. Reading a whole novel can take awhile, especially when we’re working 80 hours a week (I know I’m still reading the Steve Jobs biography I started last year!!!) and lastly,
- My Toastmasters group is a mixture of many nationalities, cultures, and occupations. I chose this book because many of our Toastmasters members are not native English speakers and are here to improve their language skills. The title essay-Me talk pretty one day, will particularly speak to them (and anyone else who has tried to master a foreign language!) as you follow the author’s quest to improve his French speaking skills.
A lot of the givers I’ve met with over the past couple years have focused their efforts on homeless persons and childrens’ groups. While these are most definitely worthy of World Book Night, you are free to give to ANY group that you feel would benefit from reading more. Over the next few months, as they worked their way through the essays, I received numerous emails & comments from my Toastmasters group, expressing their appreciation for the book and how relatable it was. The key is choosing something you think fits best with the group you will be giving to (ie. not War & Peace for a group of 7th graders).
If I’ve piqued your interest, just remember, it’s FREE to be a giver, and one of the most rewarding and fun book events I’ve participated in!